I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while (actually, like, for a year, which is longer than this blog has even existed), but was worried about coming across too inflammatory. I wanted to explain my reasoning for not changing my last name when I married Andrew. I’ve gotten lots of questions about it and I wanted to answer them in writing, because I’m better at communicating that way.
First of all, I totally respect the decision to take your husband’s last name/hyphenate/make up a new last name/whatever solution you come up with. I think that it’s important to do what you feel comfortable doing and that your spouse is comfortable with it, too. Second of all, I don’t care if you call me Mrs. Waibel or send our mail to Andrew and Mallory Waibel. I don’t have a specific reason for not caring, but I think that it’s a battle not worth fighting 🙂
Andrew and I started talking about what to do about the last name situation almost right after we got engaged. I realized that I didn’t really want to follow the tradition. At first, I think he was a little surprised, but he quickly became very supportive (especially after I asked him if he would want to change his name to Rogers). We talked about hyphenating, but that can get complicated and often the first name of the hyphenation gets dropped (much like making your maiden name your middle name). I also wasn’t sure I wanted our kids to have hyphenated last names. Andrew offered to hyphenate his name, too. That was our plan for a while, but I think it didn’t sit totally right with us. Neither of us wanted to change our identities. In fact, it wasn’t until October 15 (the day before our wedding) that I officially decided I wasn’t going to change my name. It just didn’t feel right to me.
- I really, really love my family heritage. Of course, by changing my name, I wouldn’t be giving it up. But I’m so proud to say I’m a Rogers: we’re a stubborn, religious, loyal, devoted clan. From John Rogers who died at the stake because he believed that the bible should be able to be read by everyone, not just priests, to David Rogers who was so stubborn that when his toe got cut off, sewn back on, and healed crookedly, he cut it back off to sew it on straight himself (I mean, that’s awesomely boss).
- I love the identity I’ve created for myself. I’ve worked really hard in school and at work so that my name, Mallory Rogers, is known in my department. On my name alone, I was offered three different TA positions this semester by three separate professors, and a grading position last semester by a totally different professor. I like to think that my name is recognizable and I didn’t want to lose that by changing it towards the end of my college career. I’ve spent 20 years being Mallory Rogers and I really like her. I didn’t want my identity to change because I decided to get married.
- I’m not entirely fond of the initial cause of the tradition of taking your husband’s last name. I know that no one believes wives are property of their husbands anymore. And I honestly don’t think any less of people who take their husband’s last name: I think it’s really great! But personally, I had a really hard time getting over the origin and some of the results of wives being considered property (such as spousal rape, which was legal in some states until as late as 1993). Women were transferred from their fathers to their husbands and the last-name changing was symbolic of that transfer of property.
- It’s complicated to change your last name! This is a little bit of a lame reason, but I just didn’t want to deal with it! There’s no time-frame, but I didn’t want to get a new Social Security card, a new Driver’s License, a new checkbook, deal with the bureaucracy of the University, doctor’s offices, banks, and jobs. Life is crazy enough, if you ask me.
I don’t know what we’ll do yet when we start having kids. We might hyphenate. They might just take Waibel as their last name. They might just take Rogers. We might given them both, like the Spanish do. It’s at least a few years off, so we’re not really worrying about it yet.